- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (May 17, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553394185
- ISBN-13: 978-0553394184
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 57 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Drive!: Henry Ford, George Selden, and the Race to Invent the Auto Age Hardcover – May 17, 2016
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The creation of the American automobile. Goldstone (Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies, 2014, etc.) offers a wonderful, story-filled saga of the early days of the auto age. Against the background of late-17th-century attempts to use controlled explosions as a power source and the eventual rise of German and French carmakers, the author traces the development of American car manufacturing through the lives and work of a colorful cast of entrepreneurs and innovators, most notably Henry Ford (1863-1947), a farmer's son whose Model T would make him America's richest man, and George Selden (1846-1922), a judge's son whose patent for an automobile he never built spawned an industry. Ford dominates the narrative: at once charismatic and enigmatic, he was a marketing genius--the Steve Jobs of his time--who, contrary to legend, did not invent the automobile or mass production but made his fortune by selling the inventions of others. He converted "ideas to cash," which, writes Goldstone, is the definition of innovation. In the process, Ford betrayed associates, borrowed ideas, and notoriously took credit for the work of others. He would clash in courtroom encounters with the visionary Selden, the first American to apply the nascent technology of internal combustion to powering a "road carriage." Lacking funds to build such a vehicle, Selden patented his idea and subsequently collected licensing fees from makers of motorcars. While aspects of Goldstone's book will be familiar to auto buffs, the story is so compelling and well-crafted that most readers will be swept up in his vivid re-creation of a bygone era. The book abounds with detailed accounts of races, auto shows, and heroic cross-country journeys and explains in plain English the advances in automotive engineering that transformed early vehicles from playthings of the wealthy to functional, low-cost cars for the masses. "Horse Is Doomed," read one headline in 1895. This highly readable popular history tells why. --Kirkus (Starred Review)
"In his marvelously told story...on display are lucky scoundrels and unlucky geniuses, hustlers, hacks, and daredevils galore. Mr. Goldstone has written a book that beautifully captures the intertwined fates of these two ingenious pioneers." --Wall Street Journal
About the Author
Lawrence Goldstone is the author or co-author of more than a dozen books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies. One of his novels won a New American Writing Award; another was a New York Times notable mystery. His work has been profiled in The New York Times, the Toronto Star, Salon, and Slate, among others. He lives on Long Island with his wife, Nancy.
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Two threads run through the entire story, Henry Ford and the Selden patent controversy. Apparently separating fact from fiction is tough with Ford as he took credit for anything and everything in his ghost-written biography. The book ends with the dramatic resolution of the years' long Selden patent controversy (which appeared to cover all gasoline automobiles ever built). The epilogue covers the launch of the Model T, Ford's taking sole control of the company, and what ultimately happened to some of the more prominent characters in the book.
This was a great audio book, as the story gets complicated in parts, but for the most part this book is a real page turner with tons of fascinating details about the pre-1908 automobilist.
Then I found this book. Lawrence Goldstone has presented the first 25 years of global car making as an interesting and accurate narrative. In its pages we meet not only Ford and Seldon but Daimler, Benz, Panhard and LeVassor as well. The early days of the automobile were a crazy time and Goldstone has captured the era with poise and eloquence.
A great book for anyone who is a car nut.